This is an excellent question. One which we have been asked by customers on several occasions. We do get approached by customers looking for new skirting boards or architrave for redecoration projects who often ask us about which material we would recommend if they are going to be painted. We hope this article will help answer that question.
A large number of people tend to assume that pine skirting boards would be the best skirting board or architrave option to paint as it is the traditional style often found in older Victorian or Edwardian properties and are very common within the market. Pine makes an excellent material for skirting board and architrave as it is a budget timber however as a softwood it is prone to being dented and knocked overtime as a result of everyday living after being bashed by the vacuum cleaner and knocked with shoes/furniture. Pine makes a fantastic material for skirting boards and architrave in older properties but looks more the part when unfinished or lacquered.
The better alternative that we would recommend is MDF when painting skirting boards and architrave. There is a common misconception in the marketplace that MDF skirting boards are flimsy and break easily as a result of being cheap however this is simply not true. MDF skirting boards are a more rigid option compared to a softwood like pine, it is true that they are substantially cheaper though but at no compromise making them a more suitable product for interior re-decorating. The only downside with MDF skirting boards and architrave is that they will always have to be painted as they would be the standard green or brown buff colour that people find quite ugly!
MDF skirting boards and architrave are now also typically sold in moisture-resistant (MR) versions making them more suitable for kitchens and bathrooms where timber is usually a complete no-no.
However if you insist on using a timber rather than MDF for skirting boards or architrave we would recommend a paint-grade tulipwood to do so. This is usually a more expensive option but as a hardwood it offers similar properties to the MDF in terms of density. The truth is that once several paint coats are added to the skirting boards or architrave you cannot tell which material is used for your mouldings. If you plan on lightly coating to allow a wooden grain to show through then obviously MDF would be the worst option for your skirting and architrave as it has no visible grain whatsoever!
So if you are looking for new skirting boards or architrave for redecorating your property we would recommend MDF if you are looking for a more robust skirting board or architrave for your home, pine and tulipwood are good alternatives but ultimately the decision lies in what you want to achieve.